Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Bad Case of Stripes

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon tells the story of Camilla Cream, who loves lima beans but never eats them because she wants to fit in with her friends, who all hate lima beans. On the first day of school, Camilla finally decides what to wear and gets dressed, looks in the mirror, and realizes that she is covered in stripes of all colors.

Kids laugh at Camilla, the media follows her, and all kinds of cures are tried and fail, until one woman visits her and tells her to eat lima beans. Camilla admits that she loves them, eats them, and is cured. "I knew the real you was in there somewhere," the woman tells Camilla.

Raising questions about identity, conformity, authenticity and friendship, as well as about causation and knowledge, the book's vivid illustrations and story are captivating.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fish On A Walk

Fish on A Walk by Eva Muggenthaler is a new picture book that illustrates each picture with only two adjectives — "Happy-Sad," "Jealous-Accepting," "Wild-Polite," etc. — and each picture contains a wealth of activities and behaviors that invite exploration of what these words mean. Can you be jealous and accepting at the same time? If you're happy can you also be sad? What is usual and what is unusual?

The vibrant illustrations inspire imaginative and critical thinking and the recognition that what seems simple or ordinary often is not. The book celebrates curiosity and encourages children to think for themselves about the meaning of everyday concepts.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization

The 2012-13 school year is off to an energetic start! For teachers and others interested in learning about doing philosophy with children, the new national organization I've been involved in founding, PLATO (Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization), is now accepting members. Click here more more information on the organization and membership: http://plato-philosophy.org

We are holding a second (the first was at Columbia in 2011) PLATO conference, February 19-20 at Loyola University in New Orleans. The conference theme is PLATO and Pedagogy: The Evolving Field of Pre-College Philosophy. Sessions will include invited speakers as well as submitted papers and presentations/workshop sessions. Topics include: How can philosophy reach a wider pre-college audience? How might pre-college philosophy contribute to improving K-12 education generally? Can philosophy fit into the framework of established K-12 educational institutions? How can we ensure that pre-college philosophy curricula have integrity? What do teachers need in order to teach philosophy well at the high school, middle school, and/or elementary school levels? What is needed to ensure that teachers have access to the training, resources and collaboration necessary for pre-college philosophy to grow and thrive?

The talks given at the first PLATO Conference have been edited and compiled into Philosophy and Education: Introducing Philosophy to Young People, just published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. The book seeks to illuminate the ways in which philosophy can strengthen and deepen pre-college education, examining various issues involved in teaching philosophy to young people at different grade levels, including assessing what teachers need in order to teach philosophy and describing several models for introducing philosophy into schools. Ways to explore specific branches of philosophy—ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, aesthetics, and logic—through literature, thought experiments, and games and activities, as well as traditional philosophy texts, are described. The book’s final section considers student assessment and program evaluation, and analyzes the contributions pre-college philosophy can make to education in general.

And my book, The Philosophical Child, should be out next week. Happy fall!